Review Round Up #64

PlugInMusic.com's Review Round Up feature provides five quick-fire music reviews on a weekly basis. This edition includes Anarbor's The Natural Way," honeyhoney's Loose Boots," Past Lives' "Strange Symmetry," Paper the Operator's "Solemn Boyz EP," and Shinky's "Like Flames."

The Natural Way

Anarbor
“The Natural Way”
(Hopeless Records 2008)

The young 'uns in Anarbor make surprisingly mature music, considering all of the band members are straight out of high school. The lyrics on their debut EP may all be love/hate letters to teenage sweethearts, but singer Slade Echeverria has enough self-awareness to croon lyrics like "My heart's giving in to my eyes" with a wink. The attitude matches the music: fun-loving pop jams that swing just enough to offset the youthful play at angst.

Sounds Like: Wide-eyed pop-rock

Key Tracks: "Love Instead," "Right There With You"

B+
buy it!
Loose Boots

HoneyHoney
“Loose Boots”
(Ironworks Music 2008)

honeyhoney take their wide-ranging influences, strain them through a thick wedge of singer/songwriter pop, and serve up five distinct shots on their debut EP. From the jangly boogie of "Give Yourself to Me" to the sadly sweet "David," the duo manages to sound diverse without sounding scattershot. And frontwoman Suzanne Santo delves into subject matter other singers of her ilk are too timid to touch. For proof, just check out "Thursday Night," the boozy, double take-inducing ode to casual sex.

Sounds Like: A poppy cocktail of folk, jazz, and bluegrass

Key Tracks: "Little Toy Gun"

B
buy it!
Strange Symmetry

Past Lives
“Strange Symmetry”
(Suicide Squeeze Records 2008)

Three-fourths of the members of Past Lives used to be in the now defunct Blood Brothers, whose music had the post-whatever tag applied to it. They continue that trend here, with elements of punk, emo, new wave, and more mucking about. While fans of the Blood Brothers will probably go apeshit over "Strange Symmetry," people who don't know about or care for Past Lives' previous band probably won't find much to hold their interest here.

Sounds Like: Post-Blood Brothers genre bending

Key Tracks: "Beyond Gone"

C+
buy it!
Solemn Boyz EP

Paper the Operator
“Solemn Boyz EP”
(Viper Bite Records 2008)

Whether by accident or design, the "Solemn Boyz EP" gets more adventurous as it goes on. Consequently, it gets a lot better too. The first few tracks are standard, bouncing along happily enough with a pop-punk sounding vibe. It's not until "Salty & Sweet" that Paper the Operator find their change-up, mixing their most wistful moment and the crunchiest guitar in the same song. If they have more curveballs in them, Paper the Operator would do well to throw them on future releases.

Sounds Like: Standard indie rock with one trick up its sleeve

Key Tracks: "Salty & Sweet," "Words You Never Learned"

B-
buy it!
Like Flames

Shinky
“Like Flames”
(Self-Released 2008)

"Like Flames" bears the mark of a band trying just a little too hard to make Important Music. The misplaced sense of grandiosity overshadows any shot Shinky has of making memorably heartfelt music, which they seem more than capable of doing. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the seven minute title track, which aims at being sweeping and epic, but ends up in overblown territory.

Sounds Like: Rock that aims too high for its own good

Key Tracks: "50/11"

C
buy it!